Types of Drivers Licenses in Texas
Before you turn 21 in the state of Texas, you will go through a few different types of Texas driver licenses before you get your full, unrestricted license.
Learner License (Instruction Permit)
A learner license allows a teen driver to practice driving when accompanied by a licensed driver. The licensed driver must be a minimum of 21 years old and must have at least one year of driving experience. They are required to sit in the seat next to the driver, and are not permitted to be intoxicated, asleep, or engaged in any way that distracts them from monitoring the driver.
Minor Restricted Driver License (Hardship License)
A minor restricted driver license (MRDL) is a hardship license that is issued to eligible teens who establish the necessity to drive. The graduated driver license requirements do not apply to the MRDL, so a teen may get full Texas driving privileges at the age of 15.
The requirements to apply for an MRDL are:
- You must be at least 15 years old, but not older than 18.
- You must complete and pass a driver education course, vision test, knowledge test, and driving test.
- You must meet all other requirements for an original applicant.
You will be issued an MRDL if the DPS determines that:
- Failure to issue the MRDL will cause an unusual economic hardship for the minor applicant’s family.
- The MRDL is necessary due to an illness of a family member.
- The MRDL is necessary because the minor applicant is enrolled in a VOE program and requires the license to participate in the program.
Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program
The graduated driver license (GDL) program is for teen drivers, and consists of 2 phases.
- Phase 1: In Phase 1, applicants under the age of 18 are required to hold a valid learner license or MRDL for at least 6 months before they may be issued a driver license. The learner license is issued after successful completion of driver training, including Texas drivers ed.
- Phase 2: Phase 2 places restrictions on license holders under the age of 18 for the first 12 months after they are issued a license. These restrictions include:
- The individual may not drive with more than 1 passenger under age 21 in the vehicle that is not a family member.
- The individual may not drive between the hours of midnight and 5:00 a.m. unless it is to or from work/a school-related activity or because of a medical emergency.
- If the individual is under 18, they are not permitted to use a wireless communication device when driving (unless it is an emergency) until they reach age 18.
Any original license issued to someone under the age of 18, other than a learner license, will have the word “Provisional” printed on it. This type of license expires on the individual’s 18th birthday. Non-commercial driver licenses issued to an individual who is 18 or older will be valid for 6 years. Licensed individuals under the age of 21 will have the words “Under 21” printed on their license.